IHSA's Small Business page

Small businesses are an integral part of Ontario’s economy. They also make up the majority of IHSA member firms. In 2020, 90% of our member firms had fewer than 20 FTEs (full-time equivalent employees).

IHSA recognizes the challenges faced by small businesses when it comes to investing in health and safety. We provide free tools and resources to help them protect their workers and meet their legal obligations under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In addition, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has developed the Health and Safety Excellence Program (HSEp). This new performance-based rewards program provides small businesses with a clear road map to improving health and safety processes and systems.

By creating safer workplaces, small businesses can earn both financial and non-financial rewards.


Health and Safety 101 – An orientation for small business owners

Watch this webinar on how Ontario’s Prevention System Partners (including the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development (MLITSD); WSIB; and IHSA) assist and support small businesses in their health and safety journey.


First steps on a jobsite for a small construction business (What to post)

Did you know that before anyone starts working on a jobsite, certain documents must be made available on site reference. IHSA has developed a checklist of what is required by law.


Health and Safety Resources for Your Small Business


Independent Operator

1 Person

About this Section

If you are a one-person business, then you are an independent operator. That means it's your responsibility to take care of yourself because without you, there is no business.



2-5 Employees

About this Section

Congratulations! Your business has grown to the point that you hired a few people. Now you move from being an independent operator to an employer and small business owner. As an employer, it is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect your workers from injury or illness on the job.



6-19 Employees

About this Section

When you are an employer with more than five employees, you may need to start formalizing some of your processes. You may have workers at different jobsites, which means you can't be with them all the time. This is when training becomes even more important—to ensure that everyone understands how to get the job done safely.



20+ Employees

About this Section

When your company reaches the point where you have 20 or more employees, you may start functioning like a larger firm. You probably have formal administrative processes in place, along with supervisors, certified Health and Safety Representatives, and Joint Health and Safety Committees. With 20 or more workers, having an effective health and safety management system becomes critical to protecting workers from injury and illness.


Resources from MLITSD

The MLITSD has created a web page for small businesses that bundles resources in one place to help employers understand and comply with OHSA and the Employment Standards Act in Ontario. Business owners can now easily access it when first registering their businesses on the ServiceOntario Business Name Registration page, by clicking "Important resources for small business".

The MLITSD has also developed a simple and easy to understand checklist to help employers meet health and safety requirements in Ontario.

The checklist is tailored to the workplaces with 1-5, 6-19, 20 or more workers, and includes questions and links to information that will help support employers self-evaluate how well they are complying with the OHSA. It is organized into four parts:

  • Roles and responsibilities - To help employers and workers understand their responsibilities in the workplace
  • Reporting and records management - To help employers understand reporting requirements when there is a workplace incident such as an injury
  • Hazards in the workplace - To ensure that procedures are in place to control hazards
  • Training - To ensure that all workers complete mandatory health and safety awareness training, including specific training on hazards found in the workplace.



Free Safety Talks

IHSA's New Safety Talks

Safety Talks provide a hands-on way to reinforce safe work practices on the job. Each page is a five-minute talk on a specific topic meant to be delivered by managers, supervisors, or Health and Safety Representatives. The Safety Talk Report Form can be used to record the subject, attendees, and results of each Safety Talk presentation.

Order or download your free copy of the Safety Talks (V005) (manual) or visit the Safety Talk web page to download individual talks.


Health and Safety Representatives

Many small businesses that are not large enough to require a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) rely on a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) to bring forward any health and safety issues that need attention. Unfortunately, many HSRs do not have the necessary training to recognize or resolve these issues. Visit our Health and Safety Representatives topic page for more information.


Eight Best Practices

These are eight best practices for small businesses and independent operators. For more information click here.


Mandatory Training for Ontario Workers and Supervisors

The Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training regulation (O. Reg. 297/13) under the OHSA requires health and safety awareness training for every worker and supervisor.

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) offers two free courses to satisfy this requirement. They can be completed by downloading a workbook and employer guide or by following the eLearning module:


While these courses will satisfy the minimum legal requirements, employers may wish to provide more comprehensive training to protect their employees:

For construction workers, IHSA offers an Entry-Level Construction course.

For supervisors, IHSA offers:


For employers, IHSA offers a Basics of Health and Safety for Small Business eLearning course.